Stu says: Toxic atmosphere, attendance low and the goal drought goes on - observations from Hull loss
PUBLISHED: 09:19 14 March 2018 | UPDATED: 09:19 14 March 2018
© Copyright Stephen Waller
Ipswich Town lost 3-0 at home to Hull City on a night of toxic atmosphere at Portman Road. Stuart Watson analyses the action.
How it played out…
Town started well enough and Jordan Spence glanced a header against the post in the eighth minute after a half-cleared corner was helped back into the box.
Bartosz Bialkowski was forced into a couple of smart stops after that, while Tristan Nydam made a fine last-ditch tackle
Hull broke the deadlock in the 18th minute. Markus Henriksen rifled into the bottom corner from 25-yards out after a loose ball in the box had been neatly laid off.
Jarrod Bowen then struck the base of the post for the visitors with a low shot from range.
The defining phase of play came five minutes before the break. Grant Ward’s firm header from less than 10 yards out was tipped over the bar by Allan McGrgeor.
Shortly afterwards, from a goalkick which possibly should have been a corner, Hull worked their way up the right and Ola Aina crossed for Harry Wilson to convert in acres of space.
The Tigers’ third came less than two minutes after the restart as Bowen played a sharp one-two down the right before dancing past half-time substitute Callum Connolly and beating Bialkowski down low at his near post.
Nigel Adkins’ relegation-battling men understandably showed little attacking intent after that and the game drifted painfully to its conclusion.
Home goal drought
That’s now five games in a row that Town have failed to find the net in front of their home fans. They’ve netted just two in their last nine on home soil.
McCarthy made six changes to his team. In came: Jordan Spence, Jonas Knudsen, Luke Hyam, Tristan Nydam, Grant Ward and Freddie Sears. Out went: Dominic Iorfa (injured), Myles Kenlock, Adam Webster, Cole Skuse (injured), Callum Connolly and Martyn Waghorn (both one booking from suspension).
It meant abandoning the three-at-the-back systems which have made the Blues so defensively sound in recent weeks (five cleans in 10 before this one).
The plan, like against Cardiff last month, was clearly to keep the ball on the deck and utilise a nippy front three of Ward, Sears and Bersant Celina.
Town, to be fair, did try and do that in the opening exchanges. The intent was there, if not the execution.
If Spence or Ward’s headers had gone in at 0-0 and 0-1 respectively it could have been very different. But they didn’t…
For a long time at Portman Road the atmosphere has been flat and apathetic. Last night, for the first proper time, there was an outpouring of anger.
It was the culmination of 17 frustrating years in the Championship, many years of cup and East Anglian derby disappointment, and at least 24 months of largely forgettable football dished up on Suffolk soil.
The shame of it is that just three days earlier, the Blues fans had left any frustration at the turnstiles and tried their best to get behind their team. They were rewarded with a drab 0-0 draw wit Sheffield United lacking in ambition.
That’s why things got so toxic as soon as Hull took the lead. And boy did it get toxic.
It began with regular shouts of ‘hoof’, followed by groans at every mis-placed pass (that was at 1-0). The second goal lifted the lid on a boiling pot and vociferous chants of ‘Mick McCarthy, get out of our club’ came from a vocal number primarily in the North Stand.
A cacophony of boos greeted the half-time whistle. Then, after the third goal, it got worse. Ironic cheers greeted Town passes, shots and the announcement of the attendance.
Officially logged at 13,031 (with 290 away fans) this was the third time in a matter of weeks that Portman Road has seen its lowest league attendance in almost 20 years.
And that’s not taking into account the number of season ticket holders (automatically counted as being there) who chose to stay away.